How Freight Forwarders  Sold CRFFN To Transport Minister

By Frank Odinukaeze & Chioma Akabuogu

How Freight Forwarders  Sold CRFFN To Transport Minister

Confusion has made its masterpiece as the controversy surrounding the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) takes a new twist.

While there are allegations that the council board had been inaugurated by the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

 Be the incumbent chairman and the “anointed” son of the Minister has come to debunk claims that the council had been inaugurated. And so the saga continues.


What is currently playing out  is the choice the Freight Forwarders made some time ago. Philosophers say that when you choose, you not only choose for yourself, but also for others. In other words, the decision you  today may eventually return to be an albatross to you.

The creation of the CRFFN was the brain child of the National Association of Government approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF). The idea initially was to have  a professional body that will regulate Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, like there are Nigeria Bar Association (NBA),Nigeria Union of Teachers(NUT), among others. CRFFN was meant to be an independent professional body in charge of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria.

However, along the line something dramatic happened. ANCLA came into the scene with its weight as the biggest freight forwarding group in Nigeria and ultimately changed the narrative. ANLCA had influence in government, so they used influence and weight to push CRFFN from becoming a professional body to a government council.

Of course, NAGAFF being the originator of the idea was not too pleased with the development, but owing to other economic considerations, they agreed with the ANLCA initiative.

Unfortunately, however, they did not envisage that challenges could eventually come up thereafter. Along the way, they got the CRFFN Act. And so, the Minister of Transportation is empowered by the Act to act on advisory capacity in the Council.  NAGAFF challenged for many years the status of CRFFN in court, praying for the interpretation of the Act establishing the Council. However, CRFFN died as a professional body but lives as a government agency.

Today, the Minister has gone beyond advisory role to dictating what and how the council should run and be constituted. Recently, an election into the governing body of the council was held. According to the constitution of the council, 32 members made of 15 from the Freight Forwarders and 17 from other agencies make up the governing body of the Council.

The current controversy making the rounds in the CRFFN started according to reports, when the Transport Minister walked into the conference where the members of the council had converged to elect the leaders of the council only to announce that Abubakar Tsani and Henry Njoku who presided over the third governing council should continue after he asked if there was any objection to that effect and all maintained conspiratorial silence and did not oppose the position. Now the question observers of the industry are asking: Was the Minister right to have acted the way he did, by unilaterally appointing the chairman and vice to head the Council? Does the Minister have constitutional duty to do so? What does the CRFFN Act of 2007 say concerning matters of this nature?  What is the legal implication of the Minister’s action? Has the Minister set a precedence  by this singular act?

MMS Plus findings reveal that there are more to the Minister’s action than meets the eye. According to CRFFN source, there was a secret meeting prior to the conference penultimate wednesday between the Minister, Abubarkar Tsani and one other person where they resolved or agreed to rub each other’s back. It was agreed that while Abubakar Tsani who is from Katsina would mobilize delegates from Katsina state to support Amaechi during the presidential primaries, the Minister will in turn retain him as the Chairman of the fourth governing council of the CRFFN.

According to our source, “it was a game plan”. It was also gathered that there were some financial settlement of members paving the way for Tsani’s free ride to the exalted seat. This explains why the members could not oppose the Minister when he announced to them that the “Status quo should remain”. The whole thing was a deal discussed, signed and delivered behind closed doors, the source alleged.

Political philosophers and theorists posit that every man’s action is geared towards profit or gain. Going by this postulation, it therefore means that the unspoken reason for this whole surreal and contentious action of the Minister was borne out of personal gain.

In his argument, Tsanni said the Governing Council of CRFFN has not been inaugurated as widely reported in the media, explaining that the Minister convened a meeting for the 37 members of the Governing Council to elect their leaders.

Indeed, the action of the Minister has elicited reactions. Reacting  to the raging controversy, former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke, condemned the actions of the Hon. Minister.

 According to Nweke, ”There is no section or subsections in the CRFFN Act 16, 2007, that expressly confers on the Minister the right to unilaterally inaugurate the Governing Council.

Nweke said  Amaechi’s action amounted to deliberate compromise and willful disregard to the extant provisions of Act 16, 2007, section 2 (a) (b), and section 3(b)”.

“I read through the Act 16, 2007, and didn’t see any section or subsection that confers on you such power to appoint chairman and vice chairman for the regulatory governing council of the CRFFN” he said. Nweke argued that “By suggesting and using such phrase as “maintaining status quo”, implies that this is a continuation of the third Governing Council, endorsed by you, for the completion of the controversial four years tenure which was canvassed for by 95% of returned members, invariably by earlier count decision on tenure  elongation is a mere formality, judging by your action”. The former president of NAGAFF, argued further, “ Honourable Minister, your open endorsement of a “status quo ante” casts a serious integrity and due process question on recent compromised election of 15 Freight Forwarders into the Governing Council under purview”

   Continuing, Nweke reminded the Transport Minister that “For the intent and purpose of this Act 16-2007, this is a professional regulatory Governing Council where professionals are elected to formulate regulations governing their professional practices, wherefore professionalism is the watch word. Therefore applying the same manner of inauguration observed in the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC),among others, to me seems a misnomer and a blatant disregard to the professional essence of the Council,” he asserted.

Nweke noticed that “The established rules by the first Governing Council as noted in section 3 provides that it is the CRFFN management that will convene the meeting of the enlarged Governing Council members, having notified the permanent secretary ahead of time. At such meetings, the Register provides the Council members with simplified guidelines for the election of the chairman and vice chairman of the Governing Council”.

As the controversy rages, there are some that believe that the minister took advantage of the mistake of the Freight Forwarders in the first place by taking a professional body to government to manage.

Reacting to the issue,  the Acting President of Association Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Mr.Kayode Farinto, debunked the claim of any controversy. Hear him, “There is no controversy over the action of the Minister. The Act is very clear. The Act gave the Minister power to “direct” and the Minister is latching on that to appoint people he likes as the chairman and vice chairman”.

Farinto argued that until the Act is amended, there is nothing anybody can do. Asked whether the Minister has the constitutional right to do what he did, the Acting President of ANLCA said, “Check your Act, Section 6 of the Act 16, 2007. It says that the Minister has the right to give “Directive” Directive on what?” he asked. Continuing, he said “it is a very ambiguous statement. So that means the Minister can control the Council”. He said. On whether the Minister was right for his actions, he replied,” I have never said the Minister was right but the Minister is latching on that”. We all know that there is nothing anybody can do about that until the  Act is amended,” Farinto added.

MMS Plus gathered that the controversial Act 16, 2007 is currently undergoing amendment and so Farinto stated,” One hopes that all the contentious issues inherent in the Act would have been taken care of”

The Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Idiroko Branch, Mr. Uche Nwabude does not share in this optimism. According to him what happened in the CRFFN with the alleged imposition of the chairman and the vice chairman on the board of the Council, by the Transport Minister was more of a simulation than real.

Meanwhile, chairman of the hundred per cent compliance Team of NAGAFF Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko has debunked claims that the Governing board of the Council  has been inaugurated.

Tanko also dismissed claims of impossible claims of imposition of chairman on the board,stressing that the selection of principal officers was done by consensus of all the elected and appointed members of the meeting.

Meanwhile, in the middle of this raging controversy, News came that the  Minister of Transportation has resigned his position. According to report monitored by MMS Plus, the Minister resigned following a directive from President Mohammadu Buhari on Wednesday last week that all Federal Executive Council members vying for public offices in the forthcoming 2023 elections should resign.

Amaechi resignation was confirmed on APC, UK Twitter handle which thanked him for his service in Nigeraia. Following this development, observers say that the last has not been heard of the CRFFN,coHOW FREIGHT FORWARDERS SOLD (CRFFN) TO TRANSPORT MINISTER

Confusion has made its masterpiece as the controversy surrounding the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) takes a new twist.

While there are allegations that the council board had been inaugurated by the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi the incumbent chairman and the “anointed” son of the Minister has come to debunk claims that the council had been inaugurated. And so the saga continues.

What is currently playing out now is the choice the Freight Forwarders made some time ago. Philosophers say that when you choose, you not only choose for yourself, but also for others. In other words, the decision you took today may eventually return to be an albatross to you.

The creation of the CRFFN was the brain child of the National Association of Government approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF). The idea initially was to have  a professional body that will regulate Freight Forwardinh in Nigeria, just as we have NBA,NUT e.t.c. CRFFN was meant to be an independent professional body in charge of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria.

However, along the line something dramatic happened. ANCLA came into the scene with its weight as the biggest Freight Forwarding group in Nigeria and ultimately changed the narrative. ANLCA had influence in government, so they used influence and weight to push CRFFN from becoming a professional body to a government council.

Of course, Nagaff being the originator of the idea was not too pleased with the development, but owing to other economic considerations, they agreed with the ANCLA initiative.

Unfortunately however, they did not envisage that challenges that would eventually come up thereafter. Along the way, they got the CRFFN Act with the National Assembly establishing it. And so, the Minister of Transportation became an advisory person to the council. And so CRFFN that was to be a professional body ends up a government agency.

Today, the Minister has gone beyond advisory role to dictating what and how the council should run and be constituted. Recently, an election into the governing body of the council was held. According to the constitution of the council, 32 members made of 15 from the Freight Forwarders and 17 from other agencies make up the governing body of the Council.

The current controversy making the rounds in the CRFFN started according to reports, when the Transport Minister walked into the conference where the members of the council had converged to elect the leaders of the council only to announce that Abubakar Tsani and Henry Njoku who presided over the third governing council should continue and he asked if there was any objection to that effect and all maintained conspiratorial silence and did not oppose the position. Now the question observers of the industry are asking: was the minister right to have acted the way he did, by unilaterally appointing the chairman and vice to head the Council? Does the Minister have constitutional duty to do so? What does the Act 16 of 2007 say concerning matters of this nation?  What is the legal implication of the Minister’s action? Has the Minister set a president by this singular act?

MMS Plus findings reveal that there are more to the Minister’s action than meets the eye. According to CRFFN source, there was a secret meeting prior to the conference penultimate wenesday between the Minister, Abubarkar Tsani and one other person were they resolved or agreed to rub each other’s back. It was agreed that while Abubakar Tsani who is from Kastina would mobilize delegates from that state to support Amaechi during the presidential primaries, the Minister will in turn retain him as the Chairman of the fourth governing council of the CRFFN.

According to our source, “it was a game plan”. It was also gathered that there was some financial settlement of members paving the way for Tsani’s free ride to the exalted seat. This explains why the members could not oppose the Minister when he announced to them that the “Status quo should remain”. The whole thing was a deal discussed, signed and delivered behind closed doors.

Political philosophers and theorist posit that every man’s action is geared towards profit or gain. Going by this postulation, it therefore means that the unspoken reason for this whole surreal and contentious action of the minister was borne out of personal gain.

MMS Plus made spirited efforts to get the views of some legal minds. Barrister Emmanuel Nwagbara an expert on Maritime law, when contact via Telephone could not speak to MMS owing to ill health.

Indeed, the action of the Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi has elicited reactions.Reacting  to the raging controversy former president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke, condemned the actions of the Hon. Minister. According to Nweke,” There is no section or subsections in the CRFFN Act 16, 2007, that expressly confers on the minister the right to unilaterally inaugurate the Governing Council.

Nweke said the Amaechi’s action amounted to deliberate compromise and willful disregard to the extant provisions of Act 16, 2007, section 2 (a) (b), and section 3(b)”.

”  I read through the act 16, 2007, and didn’t see any section or subsection that confers on you such power to appoint chairman and vice chairman for the regulatory governing council of the CRFFN” he said. Nweke argued that “By suggesting and using such phrase as “maintaining status quo”, implies that this is a continuation of the third Governing Council, endorsed by you, for the completion of the controversial four years tenure which was canvassed  for by 95% of returned members, invariably by earlier count decision on tenure  elongation is a mere formality, judging by your action”. The former president of NAGAFF, argued further and said “ Honurable Minister, your open endorsement of a “status quo ante” casts a serous integrity and due process question on recent compromise election of 15 Freight Forwarders into the Governing Council under purview”

   Continuing, Nweke reminded the Transport Minister that “For the intent and purpose of this Act 16-2007, this is a professional regulatory Governing Council where professionals are elected to formulate regulations governing their professional practices, wherefore professionalism is the watch word. Therefore applying the same manner of inauguration observed in the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) among others to me seen a misnomer and a blatant disregard to the professional essence of the Council” he asserted. Nweke noticed that “The established rules by the first Governing Council as noted in section 3 provides that it is the CRFFN management that will convene the meeting of the enlargement Governing Council members, having noticed the permanent secretary ahead of time. At such meeting the Register provides the Council members with simplified guidelines for the election of the chairman and vice chairman of the Governing Council”.

As the controversy rages, there are some that behaves that the minister took advantage of the mistake of the Freight Forwarders in the first place by taking a professional body to government to manage. What be the initial intention of embarking on this Sysphean labours must be regretted now. It would be recalled that NAGAFF apparently foreseeing the future filed suit against the decision of the hand over the CRFFN to government. But the reasons best known to them withdrew the suit. Based on what are currently happening one wonders whales they regret their action of withdrawing the suit.

Reacting to the issue, acting president of Association Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) Mr.Kayode Farinto, debunked the claim of any controversy. Hear him “There is no controversy over the action of the Minister. The Act is very clear. The Act gave the Minister power to “direct” and the Minister is lathing on that to appoint people he likes as the chairman and vice chairman”.

Farinto argued that until the Act is amended, there is nothing anybody can do. Asked whether the Minister has the constitution alright to do what to do what he did, the Acting President of ANLCA said “check your act section 6 of the Act 16, 2007. It says that the Minister has the right to give “Directive” Directive on what?” he asked. Continuing he said “it is a very ambiguous statement. So that means the Minister can control the Council”. He said. On whether the minister was right for his actions, he replied,” I have never said the minister was right but the minister is latching on that”. We all know that there is nothing anybody can do about that until the  Act is amended. Farinto added.

MMS Plus gathered that the controversial Act 16, 2007 is currently undergoing amendment and so Farinto state.” One hopes that all the contentious issues inherent in the Act would have been taken care of”

The chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Idiroko Branch, Mr. Uche Nwabude does not share in this optimism. According to him what happened in the CRFFN with the alleged imposition of the chairman and the vice chairman on the board of the Council, by the Transport minister was more of a simulation than real.

Hear him “As far as the Transport Minister has highly asked CRFFN, by imposing some people as leaders of the Council, nothing good would come out from” there” the Idiroko chairman added that “ The minister must give them free hand to operate. He is not a Freight Forwarder. His duty is to supervise the Council on advisory level”.

Meanwhile, chairman of the hundred per cent compliance Team of NAGAFF Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko has debunked claims that the Governing board of the Council or the regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) has been inaugurated.

Tanko also dismissed claims of impossible claims of imposition of chairman on the board of the stressing that the selection of principal officers was done by consensus of all the elected and appointed members of the meeting.

Meanwhile, in the middle of this raging controversy, News came that the Honorable Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has resigned his position. According to report monitored by MMS, the minister resigned following a directive from President Mohammadu Buhari penultimate Wednesday that all Federal Executive Council members vying for public offices in the forthcoming 2023 elections should resign.

Amaechi resignation was confirmed on APC, UK Twitter handle which thanked him for his service in Nigeraia. Following this development, observers say that last has not been heard of the CRFFN conundrum.

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